Tense and reality

In Modality and Tense. Oxford University Press. pp. 261--320 (2005)
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Abstract

There is a common form of problem, to be found in many areas of philosophy, concerning the relationship between our perspective on reality and reality itself. We make statements (or form judgements) about how things are from a given standpoint or perspective. We make the statement ‘it is raining’ from the standpoint of the present time, for example, or the statement‘it is here’ from the standpoint of where we are, or the statement ‘I am glad’ from the standpoint of a subject. In each of these cases, the statement has a certain ‘aspect’ or perspectival character in virtue of which its truth is capable of varying from one standpoint to another. Thus the statement ‘it is raining’ is tensed, the statement ‘it is here’ is ‘spatiocentric’ and the statement ‘I am glad’ is first-personal. The problem we then face is to determine whether this aspect is a feature of the reality which is described or merely a feature of the statement by which it is described. Is reality itself somehow tensed or spatiocentric or firstpersonal or is it merely that we describe a tenseless or spatially uncentered or impersonal reality from a tensed or spatiocentric or first-personal point of view?

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Kit Fine
New York University

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